Stout a Key Component of the Trifecta

Zac Stout was the last of the trifecta that was introduced in the now famous press conference this past June at Iggy's Sports Grill when Jake Heaps, Ross Apo and Stout all made their commitment to BYU known in a very public way. Although Stout was a somewhat reluctant participant, his inclusion in the event was vital.

"I wasn't going to do it without him, no way," said Jake Heaps regarding Zac Stout's participation in the June 4 press conference. "I had to have him, I really did. For me and for Ross [Apo], Zac had to be there in our minds or we wouldn't have gone through with it."

Stout did indeed show up, joining with both Heaps and Apo in making their commitment to BYU known in the most public of ways. It was a move that was unprecedented in regards to BYU recruiting, and was something the local media in Utah hadn't ever seen.

It was also a move that was as warmly and enthusiastically embraced by Cougar fans everywhere as it was by prospective BYU recruits. Indeed, this was the main intent that Heaps had in mind when he first hatched the idea of a public press conference to announce not only his commitment, but the commitment of Apo and Stout, to everyone.

Although Stout was met with the ready embrace of the Cougar Nation, the concept of a public press conference was something Stout himself was very slow to put his arms around.

Zac Stout simply doesn't like to talk much to the media and others about whatever personal successes he's had on the football field. It's not his thing. While his good friend and future teammate Heaps is a duck in the water with the press, Stout would rather keep to himself.

"I just don't like to talk much about myself and playing football to the media and to others," summed up Stout as succinctly as one would expect when given his self-description. "It's not my thing. I just like to play football."

Stout has obviously found a lot of success with football and has performed very well since he started seeing playing time as a freshman for the Oaks Christian varsity squad. Following his freshman year, Stout assumed the starting role at middle linebacker and will finish up there this coming season.

Due to his play at Oaks Christian, Stout has garnered All-State honors and has made the First-Team All-American Private School team along with former prospect Manti Te'o.

Oaks Christian is not your typical high school. It's a school chock-full of stars, sons of stars and future Division I players. With that being as such, Stout has played in the limelight, but yet he shies away from it.

"I think it helps me as a player," remarked Stout about his approach to football. "I think just concentrating on playing football and not worrying about what others think and how people look at me, it helps me focus on what is most important. I'm all about winning and doing what I need to do to help my team win. Everything else isn't important and isn't what I'm about."

Stout's quiet yet intense approach to the football field saw immediate results, as he was met with an offer from Oregon State right after his sophomore year. That was followed up by an offer from BYU before other schools threw their hats in the ring.

As is the case with most recruits seeing early attention from would-be suitors, Stout received his share of phone calls. Due to NCAA restrictions limiting direct calls from coaches to recruits, messages are often left to recruits to call the coaches instead, thereby circumventing the limited contact rule during certain times of the recruiting process.

During such times Stout would get many messages relayed to him to call back certain coaches. Sometimes Stout would oblige, but in many other instances he wouldn't, as he simply wasn't interested in gaining as many scholarship offers as possible regardless of interest level.

During one stretch in early February Stout received yet another message to call a certain coach, but had yet to call back. His father, Gary Stout, implored his son to make the call in this particular instance.

Stout went on to tell his father that he didn't want to call back because he knew what they wanted him to say and that he wasn't interested in saying it. They wanted to hear that Stout was interested, but he simply wasn't and didn't want to pretend that he was.

Around this time Stout's parents were looking for ways to ease the recruiting process for their son. Through keeping up with most of the recruiting information provided by, they became aware of and readily followed the recruitment of one Jake Heaps. They recommended to Zac that he contact Heaps.

Heaps was similar to Stout in that he was receiving a boatload of offers and that he was LDS. Prior to the suggestion, Stout had never contacted Heaps or communicated with him or his family in any way.

"It was weird," explained Stout about the idea to contact Heaps. "I don't like talking on the phone much, but when my parents suggested that I just contact him and talk to him it made sense to me and was something I agreed to."

The idea was to contact Skyline High School's coaching staff in hopes of getting Heaps' phone number. Just a couple of days later Stout had yet to make the call when his parents received a message.

"Kelly Heaps, Jake's mom, sent my parents an email wanting to contact us," explained Stout. "It was cool since we both had the idea to contact one another at the same time. It's cool how that worked out."

Stout got in contact with Heaps soon thereafter and they became fast friends. Even though both recruits are very different in their respective approaches to the media and the limelight, they found common ground on the things that are most important.

"During most of our conversations he'd do just about all the talking and I'd just listen," said Stout with a laugh. "Like I said, I don't talk much on the phone, but I loved what he was telling me. I loved his perspective and we found that we agreed on just about everything."

"Zac and I have the same goals," added Heaps. "During that time neither of us were committed to BYU, so we didn't talk about BYU all that much. We obviously mentioned it, and since BYU was recruiting us both pretty hard we'd talk about BYU, but it wasn't all about BYU at all. Not even close. We'd talk about just football and stuff that friends talk about."

But as time went on the focus did turn to BYU, as both Heaps and Stout grew in their mutual interest to the school they'd both eventually commit to. During the month of May things really started to heat up.

"Jake began talking about how he was ready to commit to BYU or at least thinking about it," related Stout. "He told me of his plans to do a press conference, but told me that he wasn't going to do it without me."

As one could readily imagine, the prospect of a press conference was definitely not something Stout was interested in pursuing. Nevertheless, Heaps remained persistent, as he didn't want to do the press conference by himself. Instead, he wanted to include Stout and his good buddy Ross Apo, who he had become very close to as well.

"He'd call me every night trying to convince me and I just wouldn't do it," said Stout about Heaps. "I wouldn't tell him no, but I'd just say something like, ‘I'll think about it, and call me back tomorrow.'"

Eventually Heaps did convince Stout, as the reasoning and the benefits of the press conference became clear in Stout's mind.

"I really didn't want to be one of those guys who waited until January and made it all about me when I committed, and neither did Jake or Ross," explained Stout. "For us and for me personally, I wanted to be one of those guys who committed in June so I could encourage guys to join us, making it about the team and the future of the team, not about ourselves."

So Stout set off to Salt Lake City, where the plan was to head in through the back door and evade the gaze of fans and media alike before they would make their public commits.

As Stout sat there waiting nervously for the press conference to begin, he had no idea who was out there waiting for him, how many people there would be, or anything else. As his father Gary was going back and forth from the waiting room in the back to the front where anxious fans and most of the local media were waiting, Zac inquired about exactly what was out there.

"My dad played it down big-time," recalled Stout. "We were very interested in knowing who was out there, and when I asked my dad he told that there were like 15 or so and that it wasn't that big of a thing."

What Stout didn't know, but what his father Gary indeed knew at the time, was that Iggy's was packed wall-to-wall with raging and anxious BYU fans, as well as reporters from virtually every local media outlet.

The second Jake Heaps made his way to the table to announce his commitment, it finally dawned on Stout exactly what he had gotten himself into.

"I just looked at Ross and he looked back at me and we were like, ‘What did we just get ourselves into?'" recalled Stout. "I just looked at my dad and was like, ‘Uh, that sounds like quite a bit more than 15 people.'

"I was nervous, for sure," continued Stout. "When Ross announced my name and it was my turn to walk out I was sweating for sure. I just needed to get it over with."

Stout took the podium, read a prepared statement, announced his commit to BYU and was done after taking subsequent questions from the media. He said he's happy he did it, but mentioned that it's something he probably wouldn't be too anxious to do again.

"I'm not big on that sort of thing, but I did it for Jake and for Ross," explained Stout. "Those are my boys and we're in it together. That's the message we wanted to send. We wanted everyone to know how strongly we felt that BYU was the place where we could win championships and encourage the best talent to join with us in our goals. There's no way I would have done something like that for myself and neither would have Jake or Ross."

Since the time of his commitment, with everything else that has happened on the Cougar recruiting front, some could assume that Stout's commitment has been strengthened. Stout however downplayed this, indicating that it would be almost impossible to strengthen his resolve to go on to sign with BYU and be part of their football program.

"I was totally committed when I committed, so I don't know how you get more committed than I was or that I am right now," explained Stout. "BYU is simply the best place for me and I didn't know that any better then than I do now. I'm totally committed to BYU and everything about BYU."

Much like Heaps, Stout has forged strong relationships with existing and subsequent BYU commits. Kyle Van Noy is someone Stout has become very close to, and Van Noy will visit him and his family this coming week.

During his stay, Van Noy will likely further encourage his future defensive teammate to put a big hurting on Heaps in their September 18 matchup when Oaks Christian will travel up to Seattle to face Heaps' Skyline team.

"Kyle told me that he'd give me $100 if I knocked Jake out during the game," related Stout with a laugh. "He really wants me to do well against him and shake him up a bit."

Stout obviously knows that Van Noy wouldn't be able to pay him the money even if he followed through with it, but is anxious to do well against his future teammate and good friend.

Heaps, meanwhile, is well aware of the opposition Stout has curried against him for their impending matchup and jokingly stated, "I don't know what that's all about. I guess they want to hurt their friend and future teammate. I've been nice to them and I thought we were friends, but what can you do?"

Although both Heaps and Stout want to beat each others' teams, they're well aware that the game doesn't mean all that much for their respective teams' overall successes this coming season.

"We both want to win our state championships and our game against each other won't help with that," said Stout. "We obviously both want to win, but we'll be playing much more important games next season and we both realize that."

Championships at the next level are exactly what Stout, Heaps, Apo, Van Noy and the rest have well in mind as they finish up before enrolling in school for the 2010 season.

"That's our goal," stated Stout regarding their collective resolve to continue and maybe even build upon the great tradition of BYU football. "We feel that with the players that we have coming in [combined] with the great players already there … we can win championships, national championships. That's our goal."

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